[Join Steve Kelso and Chris Carter, as they both review Fallout 3's Mothership Zeta pack for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Steve Kelso's review was written months ago when the DLC dropped on the 360, and Chris Carter's is brand new. Intro by Steve Kelso.]
Fallout 3′s Capital Wasteland is without a doubt one of the largest areas to explore inside of a video game to date. Many fans are absolutely clueless about half of the known locations of the map, much less the little secrets which can be found in some random nook or cranny.
If you’ve come across the alien crash site, you have done a fair bit of exploring. Of course who would have ever thought we’d visit the ominous mothership from whence it came? The deafening cries of alien probes await you upon Mothership Zeta.
Steve Kelso (Xbox 360):
Being abducted is a surreal experience, and honestly it happens just the way you would expect it to. A bright blue light surrounds you, and suddenly you are no longer in control of where you are going. It doesn’t matter how hard you flail your arms; you’re headed skyward.
When you first awaken, you’ll find a typical scene of you laying on a table surrounded by little green men with tools for probing scattered about. Although the game never readily identifies what they do to you, it is obvious that it involved a significant portion of pain, and most likely involves the anal region.
When you open your eyes again the adventure begins. You meet a fellow Wastelander named Somah, and together, break out of the prisoner holding area and rescue a little girl named Sally who leads you through the halls of Mothership Zeta.
The 320 MB download was quite small, when you consider that the alien vessel was put together using brand new art assets. The new design is beautifully put together, combining new colors and designs that are not seen anywhere else in the Fallout 3 universe. The amount of time and dedication it must have taken to put it all together definitely speaks to Bethesda’s desire to create a new, quality experience. Several times throughout my five hours on the mothership I thought of how successful Bethesda could be if their next RPG effort were set in the future. In all my time with Mothership Zeta, I never experienced any noticeable bugs, which is uncharacteristic for a Fallout 3 DLC pack.
As you may have guessed, with otherworldly foes as adversaries, you’re granted access to alien weaponry: melee, pistol, and rifle weapons specifically. Each of them is deadly, and almost over-powered. If you have energy weaponry maxed out, you will be almost unstoppable as you fight through the crazy aliens and their robot cohorts. Blasting your way through waves of martians, vaporizing them in a ray of white light is an incredibly satisfying experience.
Moving forward and explaining the story is tricky, because once you’re set free from your martian bonds you collect some very entertaining logs containing some of the last words of many of the other humans abducted from earth. They come from every time period, each bringing with them a small anecdote. From a 1600s priest, to a basketball star, to a late 90′s Brooklyn punk with a dirty mouth, each record some of their final moments before the aliens probe them through. The other live characters you meet on the ship will bring you a lot of laughs, and really make you appreciate Bethesda’s ability to create unique and interesting characters.
Your main goal upon Mothership Zeta is to escape from the ship, and shut down the various parts of it until you reach the deck. You’ll use the new friends you’ve met upon the vessel, your wits, and of course, the new guns in order to achieve this goal.
Unlike the last three pieces of downloadable content, Mothership Zeta is an incredibly linear experience. The five plotted hours you’ll spend on the ship are well paced and quite enjoyable. In some ways it feels short, and you find yourself wishing there was more, but all in all it’s a worthwhile piece of content. The new characters you’ll meet, and weapons you’ll obtain really set the experience up to be one of the best DLC pieces Bethesda has released so far.
Steven Kelso gives Mothership Zeta an 8.0/10.
Chris Carter (PS3):
When I first found the crashed spaceship in Fallout 3, I was stunned. It was such an amazing, subtle easter egg in an otherwise realistic-feeling game. However: after Mothership Zeta was announced, and Bethesda decided to take this one gag even further, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I felt like making a full fledged campaign would partially ruin the subtlely of the alien blaster pickup: it turns out I was right.
As soon as you’re abducted into the alien Mothership, you’ll meet with the first of many uninspired characters, and fight a horde of Spaced Invaders, many of which look like Metal Gear Solid 3′s The Fury. Soon, you’ll meet a fairly peppy little girl that somehow knows everything there is to know about the Mothership, and (what else!) annoys you along the way. The worst part about this choice of narrative is the fact that you’ll be taking the setting seriously for a second, and then all of a sudden the girl will scream something like “oopsie! I opened the wrong door! Silly me!”
Throughout the linear mission, you’ll find a horde of tasks such as “destroy the robot factory”, and “destroy the cryo chamber”; all of which are done in the exact same fashion: but it gets worse. The low point of the quest is a section that forces you to don a spacesuit, and fix some minor circuit problems in order to access the top-end of the ship. I assumed that it would be a fun, thrilling Dead Space-esque experience, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
First off, it doesn’t feel like space; you’re just running around in typical Fallout 3 fashion, prancing about just like you were on Earth. You’ll also be disappointed to know that this section lasts all but one minute, and you don’t actually fight anything in the vacuum of space. I won’t spoil the finale, but it’s a very similar, brief experience that could have been so much more.
So what’s another big draw outside of the actual mission for Fallout 3 DLC junkies? TOYS! And… in terms of loot, Zeta is probably the worst of the lot. You get a modified, weaker version of the alien pistol you already get without the DLC, a rifle version of the old pistol, and a fairly nonsensical drill grenade launcher. In fact, none of the weapons are particularly exciting, and you most likely won’t care about the very few pieces of “space loot” you can pick up, because it’s all boring. You’ll also find that you can’t pick up nearly anything on the shelves in the mothership, which is really disappointing, and is yet another example of rushed design.
Bottom line: only alien or space nuts will enjoy this download pack. Every “different” facet of the mission feels very rushed, and a lot of aspects even feel repetitive. While it took me three hours (and hour longer than most of the DLC) to beat it, it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience in the slightest.
Chris Carter gives Mothership Zeta a 5.0/10.